Football: Liverpool give Houllier hope
Monday 28 December 1998
HALFWAY THROUGH the season, the Liverpool manager, Gerard Houllier, believes his charges have finally turned the corner.
"We have a lot of work to do but we are going up," he said, after his side became the first to win at Middlesbrough in 14 months. He singled out his five-man midfield, who threw a shield in front of his three defenders to protect them both from the supply to Middlesbrough's rampaging forwards and from themselves.
For, while Paul Gascoigne was pushed backwards into less harmful areas and the tireless runs of Andy Townsend were curtailed, Liverpool's back line looked far from composed. Even given the gale, David James' kicking was poor, Phil Babb looked calamitously uncomfortable under high balls with Hamilton Ricard and Brian Deane behaving like bulls in china shops, and even Steve Staunton passed the simplest of balls straight to a red shirt - of Middlesbrough.
The home side's best moments came from Liverpool's unconventional defending. Their goal came when Deane outjumped Babb and outwitted James; Middlesbrough's closest effort was Babb's stooping header in front of James, who was expecting to gather Townsend's cross, and Ricard's clearest opening came courtesy of a strange back-header from Paul Ince.
Still, Liverpool did calm down after half-time, largely because their revolving forward line began to take the game to a defence that had lost its lynchpin.
"Gary Pallister had a fitness test before the game on his ankle and was feeling it after 10 minutes, when maybe he should have come off," Robson said. Pallister had first lost Ince, who set up Liverpool's first for Carragher, and then, unsettled by Michael Owen, back-passed for Mark Schwarzer to pick up and concede the free-kick that Jamie Redknapp blasted home for his side's second.
With Pallister substituted at half-time, it was Karlheinz Riedle's appearance on the hour in place of Robbie Fowler that sealed the game. Until then, Middlesbrough had a hope that a goalmouth gift would come their way but, with Riedle commanding the ball at the other end of the field, James and Co relaxed.
Steve McManaman replaced Owen for 15 minutes of free flowing football and back-heels, before Vegard Heggem danced downfield past three dispirited defenders and looped the ball over Schwarzer in the 89th minute.
Goals: Carragher (17) 0-1; Deane (33) 1-1, Redknapp (35) 1-2; Heggem (89) 1-3.
Middlesbrough (3-5-2): Schwarzer; Cooper, Vickers, Pallister (Fleming, h-t); Festa, Maddison (Stamp, 72), Gascoigne, Townsend (Beck, 78), Gordon; Deane, Ricard. Substitutes not used: Moore; Beresford (gk).
Liverpool (3-5-2): James; Carragher, Staunton, Babb; Heggem, Redknapp (Harkness, 90), Ince, Berger, Bjornebye; Fowler (Riedle, 58), Owen (McManaman, 76). Substitutes not used: McAteer; Friedel (gk).
Referee: G Poll (Tring). Bookings: Middlesbrough: Gascoigne, Festa, Cooper. Liverpool: Babb, Bjornebye, Riedle.
Man of the match: Schwarzer.
Latest in Sport
The Premier League is about earning the right to play on the counter-attack - Danny Higginbotham
John Stones to Chelsea: Next season's bumper TV deal means clubs such as Everton can say 'no'
Tottenham vs Everton live: Latest score reaction to Chelsea vs Crystal Palace, Liverpool vs West Ham and Arsenal vs Newcastle
Kevin De Bruyne: Why do Manchester City put such a high value on a player Chelsea rejected?
Paul Pogba to Chelsea: Blues will have to pay £72m for Juventus midfielder and top Eden Hazard's wages with £300,000-a-week offer
- 1 The difference between a migrant and refugee, in one sentence
- 2 Miley Cyrus calls out hypocrisy of women’s nipples being taboo
- 3 Celebrity Big Brother 2015: Tila Tequila kicked off show after 'describing Hitler as a good man'
- 4 iPhone 5c to be discontinued, no iPhone 6c to replace it
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
Iain Duncan Smith calls for urgent ESA overhaul as part of drive to cut down welfare costs
£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...
£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...
£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...